“I’ve been getting a chance to say hi to them and see their faces,” Darboh said of the college assistants who have been by. “Some of them are faces I haven’t seen before and some of them I’ve seen.”
The coaches are prevented from saying much more than hello to the receiver, but their presence does have an impact.
“It means a lot,” said Darboh. “It shows me that they want to build a relationship with me. The more I see them, the more their face becomes familiar and the closer our relationship gets. It’s nice to see them.”
One of those faces that he had seen before was that of Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Chuck Martin, who was at Dowling Catholic earlier this month.
“He talked to my high school coach for a while,” Darboh said of Martin. “Coach Wilson said he had a great talk with him.”
Darboh was at Notre Dame’s spring game and as the Irish received a flurry of commitments before the game, Darboh admitted he had thoughts of doing the same, but said he wanted to give his guardians the chance to visit South Bend first.
Darboh still plans to visit Notre Dame again, but couldn’t set up his summer visit schedule until he received his high school workout plans for football and basketball. His college travel plans should be set soon, though.
“I just got both of those schedules this week,” he said. “We’re going to sit down and plan everything out and then I’ll communicate with both coaches if I’m going to miss a day being gone.”
Darboh - who has offers from programs like Notre Dame, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Vanderbilt - said he also plans to check out Florida, Vanderbilt, Michigan and Michigan State.
“Those are just a few off the top of my head,” he said. “I’m not going to be as busy as I was last summer, but I’ll still be pretty busy. I’m going to check out those places and Notre Dame also.”
After his summer visits, Darboh hopes to cut his list of schools.
“By the end of summer, I’m going to have some sort of an idea of a top list or so,” he said. “Going into my senior year of football, I’ll narrow things down and hopefully make a choice before it all ends.
“Most of the coaches are telling me what I want to hear. I’m going to do my research and my coaches and guardians will help me figure out where I fit in best.”
“Notre Dame stopped by my school a couple weeks ago,” said the Mallard Creek star. “Coach (Mike) Elston came through and talked to my coach just to see how everything was going, and now that I think about it, they were here last Thursday also.
“They pretty much told my coach that they are still very interested in me and they wanted to know when I was going to make a visit up there.”
That's a question many fans would like the answer to, and according to the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Humphries, it's still too early to know when that day might be.
“Right now, I’m not sure when I'll be able to visit, but if I do get up there it'll more than likely be on an official visit,” he said. “The main thing I like about Notre Dame is their tradition. It's a school I'm still very interested in learning more about and seeing what they have to offer.”
Though many states allow their schools to get extra practice time for a short time in the spring, North Carolina athletes don't get that luxury, but that doesn't stop Humphries from being a leader for his team and trying to help them prepare for the upcoming season.
“We don't get to have spring ball here, but a lot of us guys get together to and go over plays and stuff,” said the five-star lineman. “For me, it isn’t much of an issue, because after the season I only took a week off and I was right back in the weight room getting ready for this year.”
That type of attitude and leadership, along with his play on the gridiron, has led to close to 30 offers for the talented lineman. Schools like Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia Tech are just some of the schools hoping to receive his signature on signing day, but don't expect him to tip his hand too soon.
“I'm really not sure when I'm going to start narrowing down my list,” admitted Humphries. “I really just started giving it a lot of thought, but I honestly don't think I'll narrow it down until later this summer. I plan on taking my time.”
The Irish will be waiting.
Mark Harrell, OL, 6-5, 265, Charlotte Catholic High School, Charlotte, NC planned to take numerous unofficial visits this summer as he attempted to pare down his list of suitors to a more manageable level. Ultimately, he pared his list down just a bit more than that. Last Thursday, Harrell verbally committed to Notre Dame.
“I’m excited about it,” enthused Harrell. “I just got to thinking about it. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and today just felt right. I was in the middle of homework and just called my dad and told him I thought I was ready to make it. He came home and my whole family talked about it and decided it was the best decision for me.”
Harrell also held offers from Auburn, Clemson, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee among others. He first notified assistant coach Mike Elston of his decision who passed word along to Brian Kelly and offensive line coach Ed Warriner.
“He was excited,” Harrell said of Kelly. “He was genuinely excited. He’s excited to get me down there and coach me. I feel like it was sincere and we talked about why I chose it and he talked about why it was going to be a great option for me.”
Harrell’s summer trip plans have been permanently cancelled.
“I’m all done with recruiting,” Harrell informed. “It feels great to get it all done with. I’m solid on the Irish and just glad to get it done with, move on from there and enjoy my senior season.”
Harrell’s parents were just as excited to have his recruitment come to an end as he was. After having made approximately a dozen unofficial visits, they’re glad to have the process come to an end.
“They were excited,” said Harrell. “I think they’re somewhat relieved to get this off their chests as am I. They felt like it was the right decision for me, no doubt about it. They wanted me to pull the trigger just as much as I did. They were telling me education should be the most important part and Notre Dame offers that. Football is a big part of it too and Notre Dame’s got that as well. I just feel it couldn’t get any better for me. I feel they felt the same way.”
“I felt it was just the best place for me as a person as well as a football player and a student. I love the coaching staff as well. They seem like great coaches, great guys. I think we’re going to turn this thing around.”
In addition to Harrell, the Irish also made inroads with another player from the southern Atlantic coast region. CJ Prosise, S, 6-2, 206, Woodberry Forest High School, Woodberry Forest, VA received a Notre Dame offer last week and it really came as no surprise.
Irish coaches Charley Molnar and Bob Diaco had already visited the talented Virginian’s high school, but still the reality of an official scholarship offer from the University of Notre Dame packed quite a wallop.
“It definitely changes my recruiting process,” said Prosise of the Notre Dame offer. “Going from good schools in football and moving to big-time college football.”
Prosise may be overstating it just a bit since his other offers came from some very good programs with outstanding success. He previously held offers from Virginia Tech, Penn State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Maryland, Virginia, Wake Forest, North Carolina and others. Still, he considered the Notre Dame offer to be very special and he hopes to make it to South Bend for an unofficial visit very soon.
“I don’t know when I’ll commit or anything like that or when I’ll be able to visit, but they’re definitely at the top of my list,” he said. “They’re the main type of school I’m thinking about.”
Though Prosise didn’t get the chance to speak to Molnar or Diaco when they visited his school, he has gotten to know them much better through phone conversations.
“I didn’t really get a chance to talk to them that much at school, but from our phone conversations I thought they were pretty good guys and coaches I’d want to be around,” Prosise opined.
Notre Dame currently sits atop his list with Penn State and Virginia Tech rounding out his top three. He likes the academics all three offer, an attribute that is very important to him. His high school also puts an emphasis on strong academics, a point that has not been lost on recruiters who frequently must deal with the loss of academically ineligible recruits significantly changing the strength of a particular recruiting class.
“Academics is going to be a huge part of my decision and then there’s the environment and culture of the school and then football,” he explained. “They (college recruiters) like the school I come from. We have top-notch academics and they said I’ll be a good guy to have in their programs.”
Prosise, who hopes to take some official visits, plans to make a fall decision.
These two summaries represent just a sample of the Notre Dame football recruiting information available each week on Irish Sports Daily.
Two years ago, the Irish successfully plucked TJ Jones and Tate Nichols from the Cardinal commitment list before almost getting Amir Carlisle, who ultimately signed with USC, to spurn Stanford for Notre Dame last recruiting cycle. The Irish aren’t likely to stop recruiting Florida linebacker Noor Davis, who recently committed to Stanford, and Notre Dame is on the verge of offering another Cardinal commitment, quite possibly their top verbal.
Aziz Shittu is either a four or five-star prospect, depending on which service you use, but there is no doubt the Atwater, Calif., (Buhach Colony High School) native is one of the nation’s best interior defensive linemen.
“It’s a big honor, but there’s still work to be done,” said Shittu of the rankings. “I’m not number one and that’s what I strive to be. I’m going to work and if I come up short, I come up short, but I know at least I tried my hardest to get to that.”
Shittu committed to Stanford in April, but his offers continue to pile up and he hasn’t completely shut down his recruitment yet.
“I’m a solid Stanford commit, but I’m definitely still looking around,” said Shittu, who added he is comfortable with the Cardinal and so are his parents.
Shittu has more than 20 offers and expects to be getting another one soon. He has been being recruited by Mike Denbrock, but Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Chuck Martin was at Buhach Colony on Friday.
“It was real cool,” Shittu said. “Everybody on the team was hyped about Notre Dame. It’s just a big-time name out in the football world.
“We didn’t talk, but he visually sized me up,” said Shittu, who has learned some prospects fudge their height and weight. “I’m 6-3, 275, legit. He asked my coach if I would be interested in coming up when they offered me.”
Shittu said a visit to South Bend is a possibility and, although he’s confident Martin was impressed with his size, he expects to find out exactly where he stands very soon.
“He told my coach that Coach Denbrock would be in touch real soon,” he said.
Shittu plans on taking all five of his official visits before making a final decision. “Stanford is getting an official visit, but I don’t have any of the other four set up yet,” he said.
It’ll take a total package for a program to surpass Stanford.
“The complete, complete fit,” he said. “Everything doesn’t have to be right, but it has to be better than Stanford, basically. That’s the number one team, that’s the leader. Matching it up, football-wise, it has to be better than that. Academic-wise, it has to be better than that. All of the stuff will be weighed in.”
Shittu is also considering taking officials to USC, UCLA, California, Washington and Auburn, among others. He isn’t sure when he’ll decide which schools he will visit, but the evaluation process will continue throughout the fall.
“I’m going to be looking at how teams are performing during the season too,” he said. “I need to see how Stanford does during the season, Notre Dame, all of these schools I’m looking at. I need to make sure they’re still at the level they were or improving.”
Shittu does believe the Irish could have a case for surpassing Stanford.
“It sounds like it,” he said. “I was talking to Coach Denbrock a while back about the academics they have and he told me about the 100 percent graduation percentage or something like that. That was good.”
Yesterday we discussed ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit’s comments regarding the production and talent level of Notre Dame’s defense. Herbstreit did not stop with the defense; he went after the talent level of the entire program. For quite some time now, Herbstreit has criticized the speed and overall talent of the Notre Dame football team.
During a recent discussion on Notre Dame, Herbstreit brought up Notre Dame’s perceived lack of speed and talent at the skill positions.
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